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Sainsbury's has promised to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero over the next 20 years

Gruppo VéGé and Metro Italia have announced the formation of an alliance

Ecommerce in UK grew 6.7% in 2019
Ecommerce in the United Kingdom grew 6.7% last year. This is an all-time low. The discouraging growth rate is especially significant when you compare it to the 11.8% growth rate in 2018. It wasn’t the best year for the ecommerce in the United Kingdom. This is mostly due to a difficult start, as online retail sales grew only 5.4% in the first half of the year, compared to the same period in 2018. In the second half, ecommerce sales grew 7.6% year-on-year. November showed a great performance with online sales increasing by 16.4% year-on-year. December also achieved good numbers, with a growth rate of 9.4%. This is shown in the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers.

Russia: Lenta sees flat like-for-like sales growth in 2019
Russian retailer Lenta has posted like-for-like sales growth of 0.1% for full-year 2019, with both traffic and average basket sales flat for the period. Total sales at the retailer were up 1.0% for the year to RUB 417.5bln (€6.06bln), with its retail business up 4.0%, and its wholesale business down 53.2%. Lenta opened eight new hypermarkets and three supermarkets in the full-year period, while it also closed three hypermarkets and seven supermarkets. In the fourth quarter, like-for-like sales were down 3.6% the group said, with total sales down by 1.4%.

Europe: Online shopping and payment security concerns
On Data Privacy Day 2020, one might ask whether EU citizens trust the internet for online shopping. The latest data from the Survey on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) usage in households and by individuals sheds some light here. 1 reason individuals did not purchase or order goods or services over the internet in the 12 months prior to the survey were payment security or privacy concerns, such as fraudulent use of payment card details. Payment security or privacy concerns prevented 6% of individuals aged 16 to 74 from buying or ordering over the internet in 2019, 1 percentage point less than in 2017 (7%) and 5 percentage points less than in 2009 (11%). This represents a downward trend over the past decade. Payment security concerns were the 2nd most frequent barrier reported in 2019, following a preference to shop in person (18% of individuals in the EU). Other barriers such as lack of skills, trust concerns in receiving or returning the goods, no payment card or delivery difficulties discouraged less than 5% of individuals in the EU from making purchases online.

Just Eat sees 2019 earnings in line, partners McDonald's in UK
Just Eat, the British takeaway delivery platform being bought by, said it expected to report 2019 core earnings of about 200mln pounds ($263mln), toward the top of its guidance range of 185-205mln. The company also said it had agreed to partner fast-food chain McDonald’s in Britain and Ireland, becoming the group’s second delivery provider after Uber Eats. Netherlands-based Takeaway beat rival Prosus to buy Just Eat in a 6.2bln pound all-share deal that will create one of the world’s largest meal delivery companies.

Gruppo VéGé partners with Metro Italia
Italian retail distributor Gruppo VéGé and Metro Italia have announced the formation of an alliance focused on the away-from-home consumer market. The three-year alliance with Metro Italia will enable Gruppo VéGé to finally establish a presence in all regions of Italy and across all retail formats. The agreement follows the recent arrival of two new members to the distribution group - supermarket operator Gruppo Bennet (with a presence in the Piedmont and Lombardy regions) and cash & carry Multicash (Abruzzo, Marche and Molise). As a result, Gruppo VéGé started 2020 with 35 associated members and a projected turnover of around €10.9bln, generated by a strong multi-channel and multi-brand sales network of 3,528 businesses.

UK: Sainsbury's pledges £1bln to cut emissions to zero by 2040
Sainsbury's has promised to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero over the next 20 years. The supermarket chain, which is the second largest in the UK, has said it will spend £1bln to reach the target. It pledged to reduce emissions from areas like refrigeration and transport. Critics said the pledge did not extend to the supermarket's supply network, which accounts for most of its emissions. However, Sainsbury's said it would be contacting its suppliers. Chief executive Mike Coupe said the retailer would be writing to its suppliers to ensure "they are playing their part". He added: "We need to understand further up our supply chains how we impact the environment and make sure our suppliers are working towards eliminating their carbon emissions as well".

South Africa: Woolworths hit by weak Australia, December results
Half-year earnings at South Africa’s Woolworths could drop by as much as 20%, the retailer warned, sending its shares down more than 4%. The company, which sells food, clothing and homeware, said an accounting change had compounded the decline, but also pointed to another drop in sales at its struggling Australian businesses and slow trade during the critical December period. In a trading statement, Woolworths said that while group sales were expected to have risen by 3.8% in the 26 weeks to December 29, headline earnings per share - the main profit measure in South Africa - were likely to be between 15% and 20% lower.

UK: Jobs at risk as Iceland launches review of management structure
Frozen food retailer Iceland has launched a review of its management structure, in a move that could see some roles axed. The supermarket said it will review the structure to ensure it is running the “business as efficiently and economically as possible”. The review is ongoing and no final decisions have been made, although no in-store jobs will be affected, the retailer said. In a statement Iceland said there were no plans for “major reductions” across its 25,000-strong UK workforce, but said a review of its management structure has recently begun.

Lulu reveals expansion plans for UAE; to open 20 hypermarkets in 2 years
UAE retailer Lulu Group has announced that it will open 20 hypermarkets in the UAE within the next 2 years which will further dominate its retail threshold in the country, according to Yusuff Ali MA, Chairman and Managing Director of Lulu Group International. This includes Khalifa City, Al Falah, Riyadh City in Abu Dhabi, Silicon Oasis, Dubai South Mall in Dubai, Muwaila, Saja, Umm Al Tarafa in Sharjah. He said that the “national economy in the UAE depends on several factors that include solid foundations, an increase of purchasing power, and the state of consumer optimism as revealed by the latest indicators and studies. This has encouraged us to further expand in the country, thanks to the visionary leadership of UAE under which the country progressing never before”.

Flipkart may take over Walmart’s cash and carry business in India, reports say
Flipkart group may acquire stake in its parent company Walmart to take over its Best Price cash and carry stores, according to news reports. The Bengaluru-based startup is looking to expand its footprint in the B2B supply chain by reverse-acquiring stake in the US retail giant, the report said. Walmart had acquired a 77% stake in the Flipkart group y for $16bln in 2018. Flipkart group which currently manages Flipkart and Myntra will, however, fulfil all regulatory requirements of its Walmart deal and serve as a subsidiary group to the company.

US: Wegmans' updated app gets a thumbs down from shoppers
Wegmans customers have turned to Twitter and online review boards to report numerous issues with the retailer’s upgraded app, according to the Democrat and Chronicle. The most common complaints include: The app takes a long time to load, doesn’t remember previous purchases, does not have a "clip all" digital coupon feature, doesn’t allow shoppers to check and delete multiple items at once, and doesn't integrate the layout of each individual store. Wegmans launched the updated app and a new website design on January 14 following a round of beta testing with customers. The grocer said it is monitoring complaints and will make fixes and upgrades based on feedback every 4 to 8 weeks.

US: Lucky's Market files for bankruptcy
Lucky's Market filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware, just days after it confirmed it would sell 32 of its 39 stores. Lucky's said it has entered into agreements to sell five leased stores to Publix and five leased stores and one owned location to Aldi, both subject to court approval and an overbidding process. The company also said it aims to sell off its seven remaining stores. In a court declaration, chief financial officer Andrew T. Pillari said that through the fiscal year to date ended January 4, Lucky's incurred store operating losses of $22mln and a net loss of $100mln. The company determined it would need $100mln in financing to continue operations and become cash-flow positive, and ultimately decided it would not be able to secure those funds outside of Chapter 11.

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